The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt is based on the story of a meeting between Claude Monet and Julie, the daughter of Berthe Morisot, at Monet’s house in Giverny, about 50 miles outside of Paris. In this fictionalized account, Julie is bored with being inside. Trying to buy a little more time to finish her own painting, her mother promises to take her “to the most wonderful garden in the world” if she will only be a little patient.
- Author: Pattertravelers
- Date Posted: Apr 28, 2015
- Category: Picture Book
- Address: Giverny, France
Using Claude Monet’s works as inspiration, the illustrations and the story have Julie run through many famous scenes during her visit. As they leave Paris, Julie and her mother depart from a station that is reminiscent of Monet’s Gare St. Lazare. Walking to the house from the train station at Vernon, they pass through a field of poppies similar to Poppies at Arguenteuil. Impatient to see the gardens, Julie and her dog, Louey, run down the hill and Louey crawls under a gate into the mysterious garden. Not quite sure what to do, Julie she crawls under the gate to follow Louey and appears on the other side looking a little lost in a representation of the Artist’s Garden at Véthueil. Searching for her dog, she bumps into Monet digging in the garden and initially mistakes him for the gardener. As he helps her look for her lost dog, they wander under the Flowering Arches to find Louey in Monet’s painting spot, making his own paw paintings next to reproductions of Monet’s water lilies, haystacks, poplars, and a little Japanese bridge.
As they continue their walk in the garden, Monet, Julie and Louey cross the Japanese Bridge, and row across the Water Lily Pond. When they reach the middle of the pond, Monet reaches over the side of the boat and picks the biggest lily to give to Julie. “A little present from my water garden,” he said. Walking back up to the house, Monet shows her the Nymphéas (Water Lilies) paintings he is working on before they join everyone in the yellow dining room for lunch. After the visit, Julie and her mother take the train back to Paris and arrive home as part of the Sunset on the Seine at Lavacourt with the garden seeming “like a distant dream.”
This is a sweet story set in Monet’s famous garden, a place well worth visiting. Monet lived in the house at Giverny for more than 40 years and the house and its gardens are the subject of many of his paintings, including his famous water lilies and the Japanese bridge series. His gardens and the house have been restored to look as they did when he was alive and are open to the public. It would be a lot of fun to find the images in his paintings in the gardens and have your child draw their interpretation of what they see. Giverny is located 50 miles outside of Paris and is accessible by train, bus, boat or car. You can find more information on how to get to the gardens on the main page of the Giverney website.